Friday, 27 February 2009

Staythorpe Power Station Protest

After watching the clip of construction workers protesting about the bosses' refusal to employ local labour, no doubt some will write these workers off as "racist morons". But as far as I'm concerned this underlines the need for the left to be involved, or would it be better that chauvinist ideas are left to fester unhindered?

Background to the protest can be read here and here. There's an interesting report and discussion at Socialist Unity too.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Building the Socialist Party

The second session in the Socialist Party's West Midlands regional conference dealt with building our party into an effective weapon for our class. The lead off here fell to G, the full timer responsible for our region. He opened with noting how 2009 has proven a very busy year for the party. Branches have hit the ground running after the Christmas break, responding to picket lines, protests, occupations and demonstrations, all signifying a massive upswing in activity by pissed off workers and students. This doesn't necessarily mean socialist ideas will appear attractive from the off, especially as the neoliberal boom and collapse of Stalinism continue to exert an ideological hangover - but when workers enter into struggles in large numbers that is the best environment for the party's growth.

It cannot be denied that the boom years were difficult for socialists in general and the SP in particular. It was a struggle to hold the organisation together when the entire labour movement was in retreat and struggles were relatively few and far between. But even then the party remained rooted in the working class and proved capable of winning first-past-the-post council elections. But the challenge for our members now is to
adapt, of shaking off some of the habits of the slow period and be ready to make the most of new political opportunities.

There are now grounds to be more optimistic about recruiting to the party but here, G thought, there is room for us to be bolder. Getting more people into the party requires more energy and more time being set aside for chasing up contacts for discussions, and it needs to be the collective responsibility of all branches and not just a few grizzled recruiting veterans. Likewise it is everyone's task to strive to develop rounded out self-organising activists through more educationals, developing campaigning skills, hosting more cadre schools and increase guest visits to other branches, because if the experience of the Lindsey oil refinery strike tells us one thing, it's that a single member can make a very significant difference.

G also set out new subscription targets for
The Socialist and a new figure for our monthly members' subs.

In the discussion a Birmingham comrade told how the branch had been transformed by its development of youth work, which has enabled it to build at all of the city's universities, hold a regular series of public meetings and crucially make interventions into the local car industry. A comrade from Shropshire outlined the difficulties of operating in one of England's largest inland counties, especially when members are scattered right across it but has found that regular contact and a programme of common activity - here around public meetings and the
CNWP - have helped cement the organisation and attract a steady stream of recruits.

A Stoke comrade spoke about our
branch activities around Gaza in conjunction with Keele Socialist Students and how the Youth Fight for Jobs campaign has hit a nerve among workers of all ages on our regular street stalls. Another Potteries comrade discussed our local success in producing cadres, but who've had the unfortunate tendency to end up leaving Stoke and doing the business for other branches. He also allowed himself a moment to hark back to the 80s when Militant had 13 full timers in the West Midlands alone, before stressing the need to increase the circulation of our paper.

After a few more contributions Peter Taaffe quickly came in to say he will be pleased to report back our region's progress to the national office. Echoing earlier speakers he thought the movement against Israeli aggression in Gaza was extremely significant because students tend to be a barometer - he likened them to the light cavalry who move into action before the heavy battalions of the working class.

Wrapping the session up G paid tribute to comrades who have recently passed away before outlining additional tasks. He argued we have a special responsibility to ensure we win over women, BME and LGBT workers and make sure the party not only welcomes them but facilitates their development into the cadres of tomorrow - if the party is to be a rounded-out organisation it cannot be otherwise. But in conclusion he thought we can be proud of what we have achieved, which is a solid foundation to build the effective socialist combat party the situation demands.

After ending the meeting in the
traditional way (with the proper lyrics, of course) comrades repaired to the bar for another kind of socialist party.

Ever since becoming a party member I have attended many West Midlands educationals and aggregates, but what I found particularly heartening were the large numbers of new faces in the audience and the fact new branches are being founded and refounded. The Socialist Party is a left force whose time has come again. If you're not a member now you ought to think seriously about getting involved.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

West Mids Socialist Party Conference

Last Saturday the Socialist Party in the West Midlands held its first regional conference for very many years, reflecting our success in rebuilding the party. Members from right across the region gathered to discuss our position in the labour movement, our areas of work, strategic priorities, and elect our first properly constituted regional committee since the days of Militant. But the first part of the day was given over to a discussion of the new political period and was led off by our visiting speaker, SP general secretary Peter Taaffe.

He began with the observation that no one in the party has seen a crisis like the one we're living through and so in many ways we are in uncharted waters. But two things we can be sure of are there will be no quick fix to end it, and that it doesn't sound the death knell of capitalism - that will only come when the working class takes power and begins building a socialist society. For Taaffe the crisis also confirmed the arguments and perspectives of the party in the recent pass. But this brings us no joy because it is our class who are already bearing the brunt of the crisis, and especially so in the West Midlands. Here one in five are employed by the car industry, directly and indirectly. The price exacted by the downturn here is the loss of approximately 1,000 jobs a day and a 60 per cent drop in car production in the last month.

What is unique about the crisis is the speed of its spread. In the great depression it took a couple of years for the Wall Street crash to work its way properly through to Western Europe. But deregulated capital plus instantaneous communication has brought home the changed circumstances almost overnight to every corner of the globe. The contagion that began in the finance sector infected the real economy without pausing, effectively leaving economies awash with commodities without purchasers. But more problematic is not the obscenity of general surplus at the time of general want, but rather the "overproduction" of workers and the middle class. Just as the system no longer requires the services of masses of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labour, so it will not spare the lawyers, surveyors, architects, consultants, and so on. Therefore even at this stage, which is still the early days of the crisis, the recession is impacting on vast numbers drawn from a variety of layers.

Among the ruling class there is a palpable sense of unease. In Britain it looks increasingly like the government are running out of options to the point that printing money, now euphemistically termed "quantitative easing" is being considered as a means of jump starting inflation to avoid a deflationary spiral. Amazingly this measure, which will cut into the ability to buy back the goods, is likely to worsen the underconsumptionist tendencies responsible for the credit crunch in the first place.

Regards the working class in Britain it is unfortunate that our class has never entered a generalised crisis like this so politically disarmed. The gap between what is happening and consciousness has never been wider, and it falls to socialists to close that gap. There is pent up rage and anger out among our class but the traditional means of expressing it positively have shriveled up. Some still have illusions in the market to fix things, some are in denial, others have battened down the hatches and hope to ride the crisis out, but a minority are aware of what it means. This is the context our party must intervene in and seek to address all these layers.

Coming to a conclusion, the comrade remarked that capitalism is in a new era. Whatever happens the system will be more regulated. There will be more planning and state intervention in the economy, and will likely to continue to be the case when the crisis is passed and a new phase of growth begins. But this era is also a new one for socialist politics and offers us new opportunities for getting our message across. For example, demands around opening the books, increasing wages to stimulate demand, socialisation (i.e. nationalisation + democratisation) will resonate more now than has previously been the case. But the SP must build urgently - the actions in Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Eastern Europe and Guadeloupe, and the wildcat strikes here are harbingers of what is to come.

Opening to the floor, one Birmingham comrade told us about the job centre she works in. Numbers claiming Job Seekers' Allowance at her office have jumped 11,500 since last January. 500 more people are coming onto the benefit than leaving it and only a handful every week are contacting the office to say they have secured a job. There's also a clear bias in new jobs toward part time work. For example, her local Woolworths has reopened as a Poundland - but every single vacancy is part time. Despite that, there were 40 applicants for each job. Likewise when a Tesco Express opened nearby creating 12 part time posts, there were 300 applications. There are also stories of firms charging prospective employees to follow up their references. If there is one positive from all this misery, it is that Daily Mail readers coming into the job centre for the first are shocked to see the office is not the profligate paradise the paper paints it.

A Coventry comrade pointed to the bourgeois press and their "rediscovery" of Marx, which for him was evidence of how rattled they are. In his workplace he too is coming across more people verging on home repossession. Cases of workers who were formerly on £1,500-£2,000/month dropping down to just £400 are increasingly common. For organised workers their first port of call for guidance might be their union, but generally speaking there's very little leadership from this quarter. Unison for example have launched a 'stand up for local government' campaign - but this is not about defending members jobs now, but fending off the further attacks we can expect from the Tories!

Discussing the much vaunted apprenticeship scheme, another Brum branch stalwart mocked BT's declared intent to take on 300 apprentices by pointing out that when he started at the firm 31 years previous, they took on that many in London alone. A further difference between the 30s depression and today is that then there were real left political alternatives available. But now, with the burial of reformist ideas by New Labour, we're in a position where we can counter pose our socialist ideas directly to those of our masters. A Stoke comrade noted the stunning effect the recession has had on layers of workers but also how quickly consciousness can change. The protests against Israel's war on Gaza, for example, acted as a lightning rod of discontent. Also the wildcat strikes demonstrate how quickly class anger can erupt. Another Cov comrade highlighted the cheek of the Tories criticising Labour for giving bankers a free hand - this coming from the party that deregulated the City!

A former ward CLP chair said we should not underestimate the impact on mental health and the pressure it will put on GP services and health care institutions. Even before the downturn provisions were woefully inadequate. Rob Windsor, Coventry SP councillor said there had been a 30 per cent rise in people seeking help from the city's social services department. There are now 18 people sleeping rough in the town centre, up from three or four this time last year. The queue for council housing - now standing at 20,000 - is aggravated by a chronic shortage, thanks mainly to the council previously demolishing a lot of its public housing stock. Another comrade, who works for a housing association, said the numbers of people turning up and breaking down has become all too common. But also the association is being approached by developers desperate to get rid of their unsold stock - it turns out that not only are many of them unsuitable (because they were slung up quick to make fast money at the height of the boom) but also some are having to pay security firms to guard the properties to prevent fittings from being stolen!

Replying to these and other points made in the discussion he said that housing is a crucial issue right now and will become even more explosive as the recession persists. With an estimated half a million homes standing idle occupations similar to the actions of the pre and post-war squatters' movement are increasingly likely. He also noted that despite the capitalists and their governments being worried about spiralling state spending, plenty of real money remains in tax havens. Here the rich and super rich have salted away an estimated $11.5 trillion. And lastly, he called for all members to build on the work of key Marxist thinkers and leaders to prepare ourselves for the challenge confronting us.

In all the discussion demonstrated an appreciation of the changed political circumstances (see British Perspectives 2009 for more) of our work as well as our determination to do our best to steer the course of class struggle in a positive direction. The particular nuts and bolts of this were dealt in the organisational session of the conference and will be discussed in the next post.

Monday, 23 February 2009

House Price Madness

From 1887 to 1990 Cliff Vale pottery (pictured) churned out ceramics for Twyfords. But having outlived its usefulness this grand Victorian building was abandoned to the rats and the junkies.

Fast forward 15 years work began on the site at the height of the housing bubble. As the pottery complex is situated right next to the Trent and Mersey canal with views over the well-tended Hanley cemetery, Lock 38 was going to be as des-res as it gets in Stoke-on-Trent. The developers certainly thought so. When their flats came on to the market in late 06/early 07 the one bedroom properties began at £99,000.

But what a difference an economic downturn can make. When the arse fell out of the market the prices were slashed to £59,000 for first time buyers, with a sweetener that the developer will pay the mortgage for a year. That's quite reasonable given the silly price they started off at. But then as I sailed past them on Saturday morning I noticed they had been dropped again, to £35k! And now, looking at the development's website, I see they're advertised to FTBs at £30,000!! Talk about spiraling negative equity for the poor buggers who bought at the height of the boom!

If I had a spare £30 grand and was an unscrupulous buy-to-let landlord type I may well be tempted. But are the prices likely to go down further? What's the state of the rental market?

According to the government's communities website, the numbers applying for statutory homeless status (defined as households facing an imminent loss of their home, or individuals and families who sleep rough) have been falling since the second quarter of 2005 to the latest data, which covers the third quarter of 2008. With repossessions rising and an economic nightmare threatening to throw hundreds of thousands more out of work, it is reasonable to expect the overall downward trend will be arrested and reversed. Thousands will experience the misery of homelessness.

And yet tens of thousands of empty properties like those of Lock 38 exist for which buyers cannot be found. If throwing people out of their homes while there is a glut of available housing isn't a damning indictment of the capitalist system, I don't know what is.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

An Audience with Ken Loach

I don't know what the the advantages of awarding honorary degrees, but I'm glad Keele granted one to radical film maker Ken Loach on Friday because it meant he did an open Q&A afterwards. And luckily I was there with notebook and pen at the ready.

As you can imagine he spent an hour answering pretty much everything that could be asked, so these are very much the edited highlights. The first questioner asked about his approach to casting and whether using "normal" people as opposed to professionals ever caused him problems? Loach replied that the bottom line has to be credibility - actors must be convincing in a particular role. As far as he was concerned if this is your aim you cannot have a working class woman played by the likes of Julia Roberts. This means a very long casting process as Loach typically sees people seven or eight times before making a decision. But by the end of it they have been "professionalised" by the process and are no greater risk than any other actor.

The next question moved to his famous forum scenes, such as the debates in
Land and Freedom and The Wind that Shook the Barley. Loach set out to bring the critical issues of the Spanish civil war out into the open, particularly the struggle between the Stalinists and mainstream republicans who wanted to prioritise the military struggle against Franco and leave the social revolution until afterwards versus the position of other lefts that saw the revolution and the war against the fascists as interrelated processes. A similar intent lay behind the production of Wind, which is an interpretation of the Irish struggle for independence as a revolution. Here for Loach the movement was particularly difficult for the British ruling class because in their eyes Ireland was a home nation, a core component of the Empire, and not a colony. Loach confessed to stretching history "a bit" to include discussion of Connolly's republican socialism, and also showed how imperialism can accommodate an independence movement. In his opinion the struggle more or less changed the flag because it fell under bourgeois hegemony and so, post-independence, it was business as usual as far as British capitalism was then concerned.

Turning to the state of cinema Loach said it could be the same as any other medium and should be as varied as imagination. But it is thoroughly commodified and exclusionary. Because of Hollywood's dominance, US films and US-funded films are produced with the American market in mind. As a result its output tends to resemble more a store full of airport novels than a public library. To illustrate this dominance in the UK, Loach's previous film,
It's a Free World sold around 40 copies to British cinemas. But across the channel where Hollywood's grip is far less secure, French cinemas purchased 370 copies.

Loach also gave us a quick preview of
Looking for Eric, which is due out this summer. It follows the descent into depression by Eric, a Man Utd-obsessed postman. Then one night he smokes a spliff and Eric Cantona appears and starts giving him advice. Kitchen sink meets magical realism?

Lastly it wouldn't be complete if Loach wasn't asked about his politics. Given the current situation, he was asked if he thought revolution was back on the agenda. His answer took us back to the late 60s. Then, Loach said, it felt as though it was around the corner or a couple of years away at the most. But now, while that hope is gone our situation is approaching something of an end game. Not because capitalism looks like it's about to be swept away, but due to the environmental crisis. In his opinion the planet cannot sustain a system premised on endless, reckless economic growth, and the idea 'the beast' could behave responsibly defies belief. So what happens next? His answer to the mainly young audience was simply "over to you".

Friday, 20 February 2009

Teaching the Communist Manifesto

It's been some years since I last stood in front of a class, but times are hard and the funding's long since dried up, so needs must. But what better course for a Marxist to teach than an introduction to political sociology that also requires the students read and engage with a bit of Marx? This is how I've spent a few hours these last couple of Thursdays. For my classes I set the Communist Manifesto as their reading, and much to my delight, most of them appeared to have read it. So, how did it go?

Quite well actually. I always begin a session based on a reading with how the students got on with the text and pleasingly, it elicited a couple of very strong reactions from a LibDem and a Tory, respectively. The boy in the yellow corner objected to its general political thrust while the woman in the blue corner thundered about Marx's critique of charity, and tried to claim that because the Manifesto is for the workers it is "elitist". But there were a few positive responses as well - a dangerous subversive from Socialist Students praised it for predicting capitalism's line of march when it remained very much in its infancy, while another went on to praise China(!)

Below are the questions around which most of the discussion revolved:

Does class still matter? How does Marx define it? Is there a struggle between the classes? What is "special" about the working class?

Why, for Marx, is capitalism the best and the worst thing to have happened to the human race?

"The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie". What does Marx mean by this? Do you agree?

Is the spectre of communism abroad once again?

What did Marx mean by the abolition of private property? Do communists want to nationalise your telly?

The discussions also ranged over the materialist conception of history, the theory of surplus labour and surplus value, social mobility, whether we're all middle class now and the class location of David Beckham and Wayne Rooney.

Next time it will be Max Weber and the origins of capitalism. That's a recipe for a less passionate and wide-ranging a lesson but still, it could prove to be interesting.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Conference: Stopping the BNP in North Staffs

Stoke-on-Trent is, to use Nick Griffin's own words, the "jewel in the BNP's crown". At present they have nine councillors and hope to use this year's European elections as a springboard for a serious challenge in Stoke Central in the upcoming general election and as a base to gain more seats at next year's council elections. The North Staffs Campaign Against Racism and Fascism aims to stop them. The conference advertised below will explore how we're going to do it.

CONFERENCE: Stopping the Far-Right in North Staffordshire

How do we ensure that Far-Right political movements don’t thrive in the “Credit Crunch”?

What can we do to counter apathy and disillusionment among voters?

How can we promote understanding, trust and co-operation between communities?

Ashley Building, Staffordshire University, Leek Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 2DF

Saturday 7th March 1- 6pm

Programme:

1.00 Introduction, followed by a performance of Night of the Broken Glass
(sponsored by the New Vic Theatre).

Workshops:

Building a Local Campaign Against the Far- Right

The European Election Campaign and Voter Identification

‘Game On’ Raising Awareness: Racism and Football

Panel discussion and plenary session

There will also be refreshment breaks and opportunities for informal discussion and networking

Remember… “All that is required for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing”

Register by:

Writing to us at PO Box 1960, Stoke-on-Trent, ST6 1WF

Phoning or texting 07778 913528

Emailing Sarah on sarah.norscarf 'at' tiscali.co.uk

Participation will be free.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Fire and Forget

BMW management at Cowley should feel lucky they were pelted only with fruit when they sacked 850 agency workers with just one hour's notice this morning. Angry staff could easily have taken tools and car components to them instead.

New Labour seem genuinely proud that workers in Britain are among the easiest to hire and fire in the EU, and staff employed through job agencies are easier still. These workers do qualify for the minimum wage and are covered by workplace health and safety and anti-discrimination legislation. But that's your lot. Agency workers cannot claim unfair dismissal nor are they entitled to redundancy or notice of termination. In effect, they are second class workers.

The callous scenes at Cowley are unlikely to be a one off. According to the BBC, 1.4 million people are employed by agencies in the UK. Thats an awful lot of workers bosses can quickly dump with a minimum of fuss.

Just goes to show what's good for business is often crap for workers.

Sort-of-related plug: A collection of Socialist Party articles on the car industry
here.

Edited to add: It was actually the local union representatives who earned the ire of the workers. According to C4 news, Unite knew about the job losses before Christmas, but BMW had asked them to keep mum. Small wonder one interviewed worker said the union was in management's pocket. Who can blame her if she doesn't sign up to a union in the future?

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Some Blogs You May Have Missed

At the start of the year I committed myself to promote collegiality and comradely relations between the scattered representatives of far left blogging. A current discussion has reminded me of this pledge. After all, Iain Dale does it and manages to steer a chunk of his audience to other Tory blogs (but to be fair, his 'Daley Dozen' often features liberal and centre left commentators - including on occasion serious wrong 'uns like Socialist Unity, Dave's Part and yours truly). So why can't we?

So in what I hope will be a semi-regular feature I'll be rounding up the new(ish) blogs on the left wing blogging block and plugging a couple more that have been around for a while but might not have had a wide circulation.

Anglo-Buddhist Combine - "MATT SELLWOOD - I am a 26 year old, living in Catford and working at Friends of the Earth. In a past life I lived in Oxford and was a Green Party city councillor. Now I spend my time helping Friends of the Earth local groups pursue effective activism, learning kung fu, and thinking about the world in general."

Archive Fever - "Essay archive for radicals and so on".

Armchair Socialist - "In between meetings, marches and gainful employment the Armchair Socialist indulges in all manner of amateur social, cultural and political commentary from a variety of Glasgow pubs and despite in an inexplicable lack of public demand, selected extracts will now be available via the wonder of t'internet. I should add that all views expressed are entirely my own and also confess that I do not in fact own an armchair."

Directionless Bones - "This is DirectionlessBones, the blog of Alderson Warm-Fork, an unreliable but enthusiastic cleromancer - one who divines hidden truths from observing the directions in which bones fall. All the views promoted herein derive from a small bag of grubby brittle bones, and no other source. These bones, judging from the readings so far, appear to hold a position that is anarchist, communist, feminist, and animal-rights-ist."

Excuse Me Whilst I Step Outside - "This blog is going to an act of remembering, and wondering about the future by a middle aged, ex-working class, long ago political activist of the Left."

Marxist TEFL Group - "Here in the Marxist TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) group we believe English, in itself, is not imperialism and that learning another language can and should be an option for all. Not surprisingly, however, as the dominant ideas in every epoch are the dominant ideas of the ruling class, TEFL has become an instrument of subjugation and inequality. A justification for class society and imperial conquest. Here in our small marxist current we want to defend this simple proposition, give heart to socialists working in the industry or taking classes."

Michael Calderbank - "Michael Calderbank ...thinks we must thoroughly reassess socialist strategy, and strive to build an effective and inclusive movement of the Left both in Britain and internationally. We must learn to do politics differently, to be as imaginative, resourceful and creative as capital itself would seem to be. Activists from different progressive political traditions must come together to build a new hegemonic bloc that draws on the experience of the environmental, anti-globalization and women’s movements."

Missives from Marx - "Missives from Marx is written by an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and features commentary on religion, ideology, and the academic study and teaching of religion."

Safe Space - A SSP blog offering commentary on key and not-so-key political events.

Tendance Coatesy - "This is a Critical Marxist Blog. News and comments from a Militant Secularist Ipswich Allotment Holder. Activism, theory, and the left, with a particular focus on French politics and European culture. "

VULGAR Marxism - Marxist politics, freedom for Palestine, Bristol, and Australian sporting news - a dangerous mix if there ever was one!

And here are a couple of blogs that may have passed you by -

JourneyManBlog - One of the few Socialist Party bloggers out there, it is a journey into "Socialism, History, Martial Arts, Motorscycles, Life and Other Stuff".

Infantile and Disorderly - Revolutionary blogging from a Manchester-based member of Permanent Revolution.

If you know of new socialist blogs (they don't necessarily have to be British-based), please let me know and I'll feature them in the next round-up.

One last thing. The
Carnival of Socialism is back again, showcasing the best commentary leftyblogland has to offer. Read it and support it by signing your blog up for a future carnival!

Friday, 13 February 2009

Social Enterprise Versus Socialism

Socialists - proper socialists that is - cannot get comfortable with markets. Unlike Peter Mandelson, socialists are definitely not relaxed about people getting filthy rich. Capitalism is tremendously wasteful, inefficient, exploitative, chaotic, divisive and unjust. So yes, unlike the establishment, we socialists take a pretty dim view of business. Therefore on Wednesday when I attended a presentation on "social enterprise" - an idea that counts Gordon Brown and David Cameron among its fans - it was with a generous dollop of cynicism. My sceptical countenance wasn't helped by the blurb that went round on the email before hand. Our speaker was social enterprise guru, Geoff Cox, who lists among his achievements consultation work over the contracting out of NHS services. So, hopes were not very high. But pleasingly what followed was more interesting and thought-provoking than I expected, and it got me thinking about what it means for socialist politics.

The presentation proper began with a definition of what 'social enterprise' means. It is
not the same as corprorate responsibility. This for Cox is a bolt-on extra to the basic business operation and is often designed to legitimate or gloss over commercial activities. Social enterprises on the other hand start out with a social justice objective and build a business to meet that goal. Organisations of this type, for Cox, include Jamie Oliver's restaurants, Cafe Direct, and the Eden Project - you could also include outfits like radical bookshops and the printing presses developed by left groups too.

For Cox there are a number of reasons why social enterprises have grown in recent years and are likely to remain a permanent feature of the economic landscape. He started off with the ideological effects of the collapse of bureaucratically planned economies in Eastern Europe and the USSR, which opened the floodgates for market fundamentalism. In the Global South state-led developmental economics quickly fell out of favour and neoliberalism took root (in many cases, this "fashion" was foisted on countries by the IMF and World Bank). In the West it combined with existing cuts in social provision and undermined the legitimacy of the welfare state itself. In a political climate where the state was seen as a cure marginally less deadly than the illness, policy makers and entrepreneurs began to wonder if the market could be harnessed to realise welfarist objectives.

Second, Marx's analysis and critique of commodity fetishism identifies how capitalism renders relations between people as relations between things, and captures the essence of the experience of modern consumerism. For example when we go shopping in a supermarket, we are confronted with an array of colourfully labelled and branded jars and packets - to the buyer they are simply objects to be purchased and consumed. But for Cox this experience is increasingly at odds with the contemporary
zeitgeist. We live in a society whose media is dominated by "human interest" - whether waxing about the lives of no-mark celebrities or thundering against the immorality of the dangerous classes - it is a discursive problematic that permeates the social fabric. Social enterprises have successfully tapped into the part of this culture that seeks to re-humanise the world. Fair trade, Cox argues, breaks down the fetishistic relation between consumer and producer. Buying Cafe Direct, for example, allows the consumer to feel satisfaction knowing the premium paid will provide a living wage for the farmers. If you like, it is consumerism without reification.

Capital has responded to this cultural shift too with the emergence of large ethical investment funds. There is generally a lower return than traditional funds but profit is not the primary concern of investors - it is secondary to whatever social development goals this capital is put to.

Then there is technology. The development of the internet has made the discovery of commodity "biographies" much easier, and this combined with high profile exposures by the likes of
Naomi Klein have driven the adoption of corporate responsibility. But this is not all. The medium has provided a new arena for social enterprise in the form of open source software, and it is slowly but surely expanding its influence. For example, as of January 2009 70 per cent of internet browsing used Microsoft's Internet Explorer as compared 21 per cent share for Firefox. But the year before the figures stood at 77 and 16 per cent respectively. If the trends continue at the present rate within four years Microsoft will lose its market dominance to a rival that is free, commonly owned and collectively produced.

Lastly, the general business culture particular to the sector could attract more capital to fuel further social enterprise growth. In the space of 18 months the global economy has gone from a historical high point for capital to a grim future of market failure and recession. It is reasonable for elites to wonder if the crisis partly derives from the fundamentalist conceit of traditional business models. Commercial and political elites, as well as a new generation of entrepreneurs that once embraced neoliberalism may now be asking themselves if that really was the best way to do business.

Cox then re-visited Cafe Direct as an example of a particularly successful social enterprise. The basic business model is premised on two principles: it pays growers a guaranteed price; and provides a secure market for their crops. Because of its success not only has Cafe Direct outperformed other developmental charities but crucially for the market fundamentalists, it has proven more efficient than the for-profit operations of bloated multinationals. For Cox it demonstrates that "doing the right thing is good for business".

This is all the more remarkable when you consider social enterprises begin trading with higher start-up costs. Another of Cox's favourite firms is Cardiff's
Pack-IT Group. Originally starting out as a project spun out of the city's social services department to provide jobs for disabled service users, over 20 years it has expanded into a successful packing and warehousing operation. It has given employment to a group of people for whom finding work would otherwise be difficult. But that's not all - its workers each receive a living wage and the firm is able to post healthy profits, ticking the social and the enterprise boxes. For Cox the secret of its success lies in the labour process, which is diametrically opposite to the received wisdom of one-size-fits-all. Instead Pack-IT works intensively with each employee to mould its operation around them. This enabling culture breaks with the police state-like conditions typical of many workplaces and makes it more productive than its commercial rivals.

Is social enterprise the answer then? Should socialists wind up our organisations, stop faffing about in the labour movement and sink the old fighting fund into businesses instead?

No. Socialism is more democratic, participatory and planned than capitalism can hope to be. It is also a society that can only come through the activity of a global working class conscious of its independent interests and objectives. Anything short of this - be they Keynesian welfarism of the West or the bureaucratic planning of the East, or business with social as opposed to commercial bottom lines - cannot be socialism.

Social enterprises are problematic from this standpoint. Yes, accepting Cox's examples at face value, it is laudable and welcome that good work has been done and lives have been transformed for the better. But in this regard it is akin to guerilla Fabianism. The crucial difference between social objectives performed through commercial activity and reforms won by workers through old-fashioned struggle is that our class grows in confidence and experience, and enters the next round of confrontations a more powerful collective. Social enterprise does not differ from Fabian programmes of reform - both bypass the workers and do not directly strengthen its power. (This of course does not rule out the possibility such outcomes could provide a more favourable context for class struggle).

Like all firms, social enterprises have to operate in a market and as such are dependent on its vagaries. Cafe Direct, for example, is now facing stiffer competition from the multinationals as they introduce their own fair trade-type brands. Couple this with the economic crisis and its knock-on effect - declining purchasing power of workers and middling layers, the social objective is in trouble. The relationship this kind of ethical consumption has established is a commodified and stilted imitation of the associated production we can expect in a socialist society. Instead we have a dependency-charity relation, one in which third world farmers are forced to rely on the kindness of strangers.

Then there is welfarism. I suspect Brown and Cameron are keen on social enterprises because they can theoretically achieve welfare outcomes. For the
Tories especially, the success of social enterprise in this sector reconfirms their commitment to private welfare provision. It presents an opportunity to ideologically undermine the idea society has a collective responsibility to its citizens in times of need - and of course it bolsters the 'small state' arguments, which are sure to make a comeback when the crisis and the Keynesian moment has passed. But for all the establishment arguments around welfare dependency, having social enterprises, not the state, delivering services does not fundamentally alter the passive relationship the client has with service provider.

And lastly, how about the issue of power? Cox made clear the unifying principle of social enterprise is putting the social before the commercial, but a myriad of organisational forms and models can realise these objectives. There's nothing essential about the sector that would exclude charities, "political" business, co-ops, private concerns, etc. But part of the problem is, essentially, deciding for the lower orders what is best for them.

But socialists need not be churlish about social enterprise. There are ways it can assist our political project beyond licking the left's collection of presses, publishers and bookshops with a trendy gloss. Simply put it could help create a more favourable ideological climate for socialist ideas, and this is how. Because social enterprise legitimates the subordination of the economic to social needs, the more they grow, the more government policy favours them, the more they provide us with fuel for the socialist fire. If a social enterprise can be commercially viable
and meet its goals, why can't the same be expected of other businesses? If a social enterprise can pay its staff a living wage, why can't other businesses? If an enterprise achieves its outcomes on the basis of common ownership and cooperative, collective production, why not others? And so on.

I may have a less rosy view of social enterprise than Cox, but despite the crisis, I am in fundamental agreement with him that the sector is likely to weather the tempest and emerge out the other side. Social enterprises are something socialists are going to have to get used to and deal with seriously. We can be wary of the dangers they represent but we must not allow our criticisms blind us to the opportunities that may arise.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Labour Lost

Iain Dale's repeated claims that the right command a lead in UK political blogging may have been overplayed, but there is a grain of truth to them. The left - here defined in Iain's terms as Brownite-Blairites, LibDems, Old Labour types, as well as the Trots and the (few) Tankies of the far left - have not produced "star" bloggers. Regards media profile and audience he and Guido are racing ahead of the pack. But are things about to change?

The successful blogging alliance of hard leftists, mainstream social democrats and LibDems represented by
Liberal Conspiracy shows there is a substantial audience for left-liberal commentary. According to the Wikio ranking list of influential UK blogs, LibCon (an unfortunate contraction if there ever was one) now lies third behind the big two. Who knows if it will depose Dale or Guido in the near future?

Sniffing an opening in the blogging ecology, Labour are now trying to build an audience with two official high-profile efforts.

Who'd have thunk
John Prescott would spearhead one of them? Politics really is a funny old game. On the 'Go 4th' site, "Prezza" is re-invented as an unvuncular character with his finger on the pulse of the nation's yoof. He's on "the facebook" and Youtube. He has a populist petition against obscene bonuses at RBS. And it can only be a matter of time before he's on Twitter.

Prescott's site is a political blog with a very small p. Interactivity is very managed. You cannot, for instance, leave a comment (presumably to prevent it becoming a target for Tory trolls), but it offers every opportunity to connect with the former deputy prime minister. Donning the old Gramscian spectacles, it quickly becomes apparent that this is a brand recognition scheme. One moment you're signing his petition, laughing at his Youtube antics, messaging him to say "coconuts" in a TV interview, regarding him as a bit of a "legend" and before you know it, you're voting Labour at the next round of elections. Very clever.

Labour's second effort is a determined attempt to officially intervene in political blogging.
Labour List, the all new singing and dancing brain child of Derek Draper looks as though it means business. At first glance the list of contributors look impressive. Government ministers and MPs rub shoulders with stalwart bloggers - and not all of them are on-message pod people.

Labour List was officially launched today at a "
bloggers' breakfast". How New Labour-ish. Already it has made a bit of a splash in political blogging, though, in my humble opinion, for all the wrong reasons. Draper has already taken Iain Dale on re: the Carol Thatcher furore, and has moved with unseemly haste to attack Guido (today, Draper celebrated the launch of Labour List by threatening to sue him). Whatever the merits of the criticisms, both attacks read like cynical attempts to stir the blogging pot and attract an audience.

But in a way, you cannot blame Draper for trying to draw interest with this method. It is still early days, but the material published so far is pretty dull fare. Seriously, who wants to read vacuous New Labour speak defending the part-privatisation of the post office? Or government spin on the latest jobless figures? Yes, the aspiring careerists and wannabes of
Labour Students might get excited by this guff, but blog audiences demand much, much more. Unless Labour List ups its game an inglorious and ignominious future lies ahead.

What Labour - and for that matter all the parties - don't get is political blogging's popularity partly lies in their seeming distance from the party machines. Party controlled white elephants do not work because all they tend to do is spin the output of their websites. The political game they play does not allow space for self-criticism and acknowledgement of things gone wrong. If parties were wise they would cease trying to control things and leave their blogging supporters to make the case for them. They after all know how political blogging works much better than any central office wonk.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The Australian Bushfires

The dramatic and shocking scenes of the Australian bushfires could not fail to have moved anyone watching them on the news. This piece from Anthony Main of the CWI's Australian section, the Socialist Party looks at the politics behind the disaster.

The death toll from Victoria's bushfires, in south eastern Australia, currently stands at 170 and could rise – this is Australia’s worst natural disaster, much worse than the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983 when 47 people died.

The dead include retired Channel 9 newsreader Brian Naylor and his wife. Dozens more people are suffering from serious burns and smoke inhalation. On top of the tragic deaths and injuries, more than 750 homes have been destroyed and at least 330,000 hectares of land has been burnt. Residents have compared the scenes to the aftermath of a nuclear war.

The bushfire disaster has shown some of the best examples of human solidarity coupled with some of the worst examples of the failure of a profit driven system. Heroic stories of ordinary people saving the lives of strangers are just starting to emerge. One off duty nurse has told of having to administer first aid to burns victims in a makeshift shelter because help failed to arrive.

Temperatures across eastern Australia soared into the high 40’s (degrees celsius) over the weekend. The heat was unbearable in the urban centres but it was like hell on earth in rural areas where one resident described it as “raining flames”. At one stage more than 400 fires were blazing in every part of Victoria and almost 60 fires were also burning across New South Wales.

The drought of recent years, and higher temperatures due to climate change, has led to a marked increase in the amount of bush fires. Victoria has recorded its lowest rainfall levels on record which has meant that bush undergrowth is bone dry. While there is no doubt that the drought has contributed to the bushfires, it is also true that much of the devastation could have been prevented.

The State and Federal governments have attempted to lay the blame for the fires on arsonists. While a few of the fires may well have been started by ‘fire bugs’ the vast majority were a result of the extreme conditions. The question is did the State and Federal governments do everything in their power to mitigate the worst effects of the fires?

For years rural communities like those in Gippsland, Kinglake and Bendigo have been hit hard by cuts to services. It has not just been cuts to health, education and transport but fire fighting and emergency services budgets have also been slashed. There is a severe shortage of doctors, nurses and emergency services staff in rural areas and this cost people their lives in a time of crisis.

At a national level government spending on bushfire research is less than $2 million a year. In Victoria the Labor State government only allocates a measly $252 million a year for rural fire prevention. For a country covered with bush and prone to extreme weather this is totally inadequate.

Cuts and Lack of Investment
On top of the cuts and lack of investment in prevention, rural fire fighting relies almost entirely on unpaid volunteers. The Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) website states that the “CFA is one of the world’s largest volunteer-based emergency services. There are around 58,000 volunteer members supported by over 400 career fire fighters and officers and more than 700 career support and administrative staff.”

While the work of these volunteers is nothing short of amazing, the idea that less than 2% of those who fight fires in Victoria are full time professionals is a sick joke. There needs to be a massive expansion of full time professional fire fighting staff. These skilled workers need to be paid decent wages to reflect the important work that they do. Those who do the job on a part time or casual basis should also be paid proper wages.

Many of the lives, homes and natural environment that have been lost could have been saved if proper resources were made available. Blaming arsonists is just a diversionary tactic by the government. The main reason that money is not made available is because, at the moment, decisions are being made on the basis of dollars and not sense. A system based on the short term, and geared to profit, is incapable of mitigating the worst effects of bush fires. In fact capitalism has made this disaster far worse than it needed to be.

That is why if we really want to reduce the risk of death and destruction from natural disaster, it is urgent we fight to put an end to the profit driven system of capitalism. We need a system based on human solidarity, co-operation and democracy, the types of qualities that working people have instinctively shown during this disaster.

Monday, 9 February 2009

The Guardian's 1,000 Books You Must Read

Lists are all the fashion these days. This being the last year of the noughties, you can expect them popping up all over the place between now and December 31st, each aiming to sacralise key cultural artefacts for posterity. Top 10 choons, footy moments, TV series, celebrity sex tapes ...

But for sheer size, few lists come bigger than this mutha. The publishing industry midwifed the first top 100 books ever-type lists into the world to mark the turn of the millennium. Not to be outdone, the BBC in their worthy (and actually, very worthwhile) book campaign, the
Big Read compiled another top 100 of best-loved books on the back of a mammoth poll. It was shamelessly populist too - Harry Potter was listed five times and the likes of Terry Pratchett, Jean M Auel and Rosamund Pilcher all made the grade. It was enough to put a literary snob's nose out of joint. They hit back in 05 and 06 with two editions of the gargantuan 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. Despite the odd dodgy entry and omission in this new canon (Ardal O'Hanlon anyone?) it is a book bore's dream. All titles were selected by "experts", and presumably were judged solely by literary value.

Three years on it's now
The Graun's turn. Their 1,000 Novels Everyone Must Read strikes a balance between populism and snobbery. Graun hacks had a lunch time brainstorm and came up with a list that was trimmed by literary authorities, leaving a huge catalogue of books that ticks the high and popular culture boxes.

Here is that list, alphabetised according to author. Because it is so massive I won't be tagging anyone, so meme it at your own risk!

To show off my accumulation of literary capital (or, rather, the lack thereof) the books I've read are put in bold, and those that grace the shelves of the BC household are in italics. For me it's 211 read and 245 gathering dust on our bookcases. What's your tally?


The Face of Another by Kobo Abe
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Silver Stallion by Junghyo Ahn
Le Grand Meaulnes by Henri Alain-Fournier
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Death of a Hero by Richard Aldington
Non-Stop by Brian W Aldiss
The Man with the Golden Arm by Nelson Algren
Fantomas by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre
The Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler
Epitaph for a Spy by Eric Ambler
Journey into Fear by Eric Ambler
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

Money by Martin Amis
The Information by Martin Amis
London Fields by Martin Amis
Untouchable by Mulk Raj Anand

Foundation by Isaac Asimov
Dom Casmurro Joaquim by Maria Machado de Assis
Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Emma by Jane Austen
Persuasion by Jane Austen

The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
In the Country of Last Things by Paul Auster
Epileptic by David B
The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge
According to Queeney by Beryl Bainbridge
Master Georgie by Beryl Bainbridge
Room Temperature by Nicholson Baker
Darkness Falls from the Air by Nigel Balchin

Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin

Empire of the Sun by JG Ballard
The Drowned World by JG Ballard
Crash by JG Ballard

Millennium People by JG Ballard
Eugenie Grandet by Honore de Balzac
Le Pere Goriot by Honore de Balzac
La Comedie Humaine by Honore de Balzac
They Were Counted by Miklos Banffy
The Crow Road by Iain Banks

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
Consider Phlebas by Iain M Banks

The L Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks
Weaveworld by Clive Barker
Darkmans by Nicola Barker
Regeneration by Pat Barker
Nightwood by Djuna Barnes
Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes
A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes
A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry
A Kind of Loving by Stan Barstow
Augustus Carp, Esq. by Himself by Henry Howarth Bashford
The Garden of the Finzi-Cortinis by Giorgio Bassani
Love for Lydia by HE Bates
Fair Stood the Wind for France by HE Bates
Carrie's War by Nina Bawden
The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter

Darwin's Radio by Greg Bear
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Malone Dies by Samuel Beckett
Molloy by Samuel Beckett

Vathek by William Beckford
A Legacy by Sybille Bedford
Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm
Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave by Aphra Behn
The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow
More Die of Heartbreak by Saul Bellow
Herzog by Saul Bellow
Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett

Clayhanger by Arnold Bennett
Queen Lucia by EF Benson
Trent's Last Case by EC Bentley
G by John Berger
The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley
Extinction by Thomas Bernhard
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
Lorna Doone by RD Blackmore
The Beast Must Die by Nicholas Blake
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano
The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen

The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen
Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles
The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
The Ascent of Rum Doodle by WE Bowman
A Good Man in Africa by William Boyd
An Ice-Cream War by William Boyd
Any Human Heart by William Boyd
The History Man by Malcolm Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Lady Audley's Secret by Mary E Braddon
No Bed for Bacon by Caryl Brahms and SJ Simon
Room at the Top by John Braine
When the Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs
A Dry White Season by Andre Brink
Lost Souls by Poppy Z Brite
The Death of Virgil by Hermann Broch

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Vilette by Charlotte Bronte
Shirley by Charlotte Bronte

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Look At Me by Anita Brookner
Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown
Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan
Greenmantle by John Buchan
Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
The Coming Race by Egel Bulwer-Lytton

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The End of the World News by Anthony Burgess
Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess
The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke
The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke
The Asphalt Jungle by WR Burnett
Evelina by Fanny Burney
A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Erewhon by Samuel Butler
The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler
The Sound of my Voice by Ron Butlin

Possession by AS Byatt
The Virgin in the Garden by AS Byatt
The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M Cain
Double Indemnity by James M Cain
Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell
The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
The Influence by Ramsey Campbell

The Outsider by Albert Camus
The Plague by Albert Camus
Auto-da-Fe by Elias Canetti
Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
Illywhacker by Peter Carey
True History of the Ned Kelly Gang by Peter Carey
The Kingdom of this World by Alejo Carpentier
The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr
A Season in Sinji by JL Carr
The Harpole Report by JL Carr
A Month in the Country by JL Carr
The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll

Wise Children by Angela Carter
Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter
The Passion of New Eve by Angela Carter
Mister Johnson by Joyce Cary
The Horse's Mouth by Joyce Cary

The Professor's House by Willa Cather
My Antonia by Willa Cather
A Lost Lady by Willa Cather
One of Ours by Willa Cather
Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Celine

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Monkey by Wu Ch'eng-en
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
No Orchids for Miss Blandish by James Hadley Chase
The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever
The Man who was Thursday by GK Chesterton
The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers

The Awakening by Kate Chopin
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie
Childhood's End by Arthur C Clarke

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Les Enfants Terrible by Jean Cocteau
What a Carve Up! by Jonathan Coe
Disgrace by JM Coetzee
Waiting for the Barbarians by JM Coeztee
The Vagabond by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette
Claudine a l'ecole by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette
Cheri by Sidonie-Gabrielle Collette

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Manservant and Maidservant by Ivy Compton-Burnett
The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon
Hello Summer, Goodbye by Michael G Coney
The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad
Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad
Victory: An Island Tale by Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
Nostromo by Joseph Conrad
Sharpe's Eagle by Bernard Cornwell
Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell

Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland
Microserfs by Douglas Coupland

The History of Pompey the Little by Francis Coventry
Being Dead by Jim Crace
Quarantine by Jim Crace
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin
Just William by Richmal Crompton
Poetic Justice by Amanda Cross
House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski
Pig Tales by Marie Darrieussecq
The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir
The Princess of Cleves by Madame de Lafayette
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Roxana by Daniel Defoe

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe

The Ipcress File by Len Deighton
Bomber by Len Deighton
The Provincial Lady by EM Delafield
The Einstein Intersection by Samuel R Delaney

Underworld by Don DeLilloWhite Noise by Don DeLillo
Last Seen Wearing by Colin Dexter
The Remorseful Day by Colin Dexter
Ratking by Michael Dibdin
Dead Lagoon by Michael Dibdin
Dirty Tricks by Michael Dibdin
A Rich Full Death by Michael Dibdin
Vendetta by Michael Dibdin

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens
Hard Times by Charles Dickens

Little Dorritt by Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Deliverance by James Dickey
Jacques the Fatalist and his Master by Denis Diderot
Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion
Camp Concentration by Thomas M Disch
Sybil or The Two Nations by Benjamin Disraeli
Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin
The Book of Daniel by EL Doctorow
A Fairy Tale of New York by JP Donleavy

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
USA by John Dos Passos
Three Soldiers by John Dos Passos
My New York Diary by Julie Doucet
South Wind by Norman Douglas

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Commitments by Roddy Doyle
The Millstone by Margaret Drabble
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser

Sister Carrie by Theodor Dreiser
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
The Parasites by Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
The Lover by Marguerite Duras
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
Justine by Lawrence Durrell
The Pledge by Friedrich Durrenmatt
The Bamboo Bed by William Eastlake

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco
Ennui by Maria Edgeworth
Castle Rackrent by Maria Edgeworth

Middlemarch by George Eliot
Silas Marner by George Eliot
Adam Bede by George Eliot
Daniel Deronda by George Eliot

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
LA Confidential by James Ellroy

The Big Nowhere by James Ellroy
A Quiet Belief in Angels by RJ Ellory
Cheese by Willem Elsschot
Silence by Shusaku Endo
The Gathering by Anne Enright

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

Under the Skin by Michel Faber
The Siege of Krishnapur by JG Farrell
Sanctuary by William Faulkner
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding
Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
Caprice by Ronald Firbank

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald
The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald
Bouvard et Pécuchet by Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
Goldfinger by Ian Fleming
You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathon Safran Foer
Effi Briest by Theodore Fontane
The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford
The Sportswriter by Richard Ford
Independence Day by Richard Ford
The African Queen by CS Forester
The Ship by CS Forester
Howards End by EM Forster
A Room with a View by EM Forster

A Passage to India by EM Forster
The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles

The Magus by John Fowles
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser
Towards the End of the Morning by Michael Frayn
Spies by Michael Frayn
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Hideous Kinky by Esther Freud
The Recognitions by William Gaddis
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico
The Man of Property by John Galsworthy

The Beach by Alex Garland
Red Shift by Alan Garner
Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
The Polygots by William Gerhardie
Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
Neuromancer by William Gibson
The Immoralist by Andre Gide
The Vatican Cellars by Andre Gide
Strait is the Gate by Andre Gide
The Counterfeiters by Andre Gide
Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Odd Women by George Gissing
New Grub Street by George Gissing
The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang Goethe
Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
To The Ends of the Earth trilogy by William Golding
The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith
Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov
July's People by Nadine Gordimer
Mother by Maxim Gorky

Asterix the Gaul by Rene Goscinny
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass
Count Belisarius by Robert Graves
Lanark by Alastair Gray
Brewster's Millions by Richard Greaves (George Barr McCutcheon)
Living by Henry Green
Squire Haggard's Journal by Michael Green
Love on the Dole by Walter Greenwood

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
A Gun for Sale by Graham Greene
The Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene
The Third Man by Graham Greene
Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene
Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene
The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
A Time to Kill by John Grisham
The King of Torts by John Grisham
Life and Fate by Vassily Grossman
Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith
The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovanni Guareschi

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
De Niro's Game by Rawi Hage
King Solomon's Mines by H Rider Haggard

She: A History of Adventure by H Rider Haggard
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall
Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton
The Slaves of Solitude by Patrick Hamilton
The Glass Key by Dashiell Hammett
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
Hunger by Knut Hamsun

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy
Covenant with Death by John Harris
Enigma by Robert Harris

Fatherland by Robert Harris
Black Sunday by Thomas Harris
Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
Light by M John Harrison
The Shrimp and the Anemone by LP Hartley
The Go-Between by LP Hartley
The Good Soldier Svejk by Jaroslav Hasek

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A Heinlein

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
Dune by Frank L Herbert
The Crab with the Golden Claws by Georges Remi Herge
Tintin in Tibet by Georges Remi Herge
The Castafiore Emerald by Georges Remi Herge
Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse
Narziss and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse
The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse
The Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer
Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer
Tourist Season by Carl Hiaasen
The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V Higgins
Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
Bones and Silence by Reginald Hill
A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes
A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban
Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg
Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House by Eric Hodgkins

The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg
The Swimming-Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst
The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
South Riding by Winifred Holtby
The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
The Three Paradoxes by Paul Hornschemeier

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Atomised by Michel Houellebecq
Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household
I Served the King of England by Bohumil Hrabal
Green Mansions: A Romance of the Tropical Forest by WH Hudson
A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes
Tom Brown's Schooldays by Thomas Hughes
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Lecturer's Tale by James Hynes
Malice Aforethought by Francis Iles
Silence of the Grave by Arnadur Indridason
Death at the President's Lodging by Michael Innes

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Mr Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood
Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
The Mighty Walzer Howard by Jacobson
The Ambassadors by Henry James
Washington Square by Henry James
Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
The Wings of the Dove by Henry James

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
The Children of Men by PD James
Cover Her Face by PD James
A Taste for Death by PD James
Pictures from an Institution by Randall Jarrell
After London; or, Wild England by Richard Jefferies
The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek
The Tortoise and the Hare by Elizabeth Jenkins

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome
The Unfortunates by BS Johnson
Rasselas by Samuel Johnson
Bold as Love by Gwyneth Jones
From Here to Eternity by James Jones

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
Ulysses by James Joyce
Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
Chronicle in Stone by Ismael Kadare

The Castle by Franz Kafka
The Trial by Franz Kafka

Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor
Beauty and Saddness by Yasunari Kawabata
The Far Pavillions by Mary Margaret Kaye
Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis
Good Behaviour by Molly Keane
Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor
How Late it Was, How Late by James Kelman
Memet my Hawk by Yasar Kemal
Friday the Rabbi Slept Late by Harry Kemelman
Confederates by Thomas Keneally
Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally
Day by AL Kennedy
Moon over Africa by Pamela Kent

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Misery by Stephen King
Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King
The Shining by Stephen King
Kim by Rudyard Kipling
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler
The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi
Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov
Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre-Ambroise-Francois Choderlos de Laclos
The Leopard by Giuseppi di Lampedusa
The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester
A Girl in Winter by Philip Larkin
Passing by Nella Larsen
The Victorian Chaise-longue by Marghanita Laski

Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence
Lady Chatterley's Lover by DH Lawrence

The Rainbow by DH Lawrence
Women in Love by DH Lawrence

The Constant Gardener by John le Carre

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carre

Uncle Silas by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
The Earthsea Series by Ursula Le Guin

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee
Invitation to the Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann
The Echoing Grove by Rosamond Lehmann
The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann
Solaris by Stanislaw Lem
52 Pick-up by Elmore Leonard
Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard
L'Histoire de Gil Blas de Santillane (Gil Blas) by Alain-René Lesage

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
Memoirs of a Survivor by Doris Lessing

The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing
Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
The Monk by Matthew Lewis
Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis
Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
If Not Now, When? by Primo Levi
A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay
How Green was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
Changing Places by David Lodge
Nice Work by David Lodge
Martin Eden by Jack London
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos
Zami by Audre Lorde
Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie
Cop Hater by Ed McBain
The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
The Group by Mary McCarthy
The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
The Mark of Zorro by Johnston McCulley

Atonement by Ian McEwan
The Child in Time by Ian McEwan
Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
Amongst Women by John McGahern
Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty
The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay
England, Their England by AG Macdonell
Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes
Whisky Galore by Compton Mackenzie
Of Love and Hunger by Julian Maclaren-Ross
The Guns of Navarone by Alistair MacLean

The Night Sessions by Ken Macleod
Samarkand by Amin Maalouf
The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis
Memoirs of a Gnostic Dwarf by David Madsen
Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz
The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
The Assistant by Bernard Malamud
Remembering Babylon by David Malouf
La Condition Humaine by Andre Malraux
Sidetracked by Henning Mankell
Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
Fortunes of War by Olivia Manning
The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni
The Silent Duchess by Dacia Maraini
A Heart So White by Javier Marias

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Maturin
Cakes and Ale - Or, the Skeleton in the Cupboard by W Somerset Maugham
Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham
Bel-Ami by Guy de Maupassant
Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
The Chateau by William Maxwell
So Long, See you Tomorrow by William Maxwell
The Rector's Daughter by FM Mayor

Moby-Dick or, The Whale by Herman Melville
Ascent by Jed Mercurio
The Ordeal of Richard Feverek by George Meredith
The Egoist by George Meredith
Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener

The Scar by China Mieville
Ingenious Pain by Andrew Miller

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M Miller Jr
Puckoon by Spike Milligan
The Restraint of Beasts by Magnus Mills

Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford
Sour Sweet by Timothy Mo
The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat
Mother London by Michael Moorcock
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne by Brian Moore
Arturo's Island by Elsa Morante
History by Elsa Morante
The Time of Indifference by Alberto Moravia
Charade by John Mortimer

News from Nowhere by William Morris
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Titmuss Regained by John Mortimer
Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley
Who Do You Think You Are? by Alice Munro

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Under the Net by Iris Murdoch
The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch
The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil
Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov
Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
Ada or Ardor by Vladimir Nabokov
Lolita, or the Confessions of a White Widowed Male by Vladimir Nabokov
Fireflies by Shiva Naipaul
A House for Mr Biswas by VS Naipaul
A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul
The Painter of Signs by RK Narayan
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

Delta of Venus by Anais Nin
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh

Ringworld by Larry Niven
Vurt by Jeff Noon
All Souls Day by Cees Nooteboom
McTeague by Frank Norris
Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian
At-Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien
The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
Personality by Andrew O'Hagan
Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness by Kezaburo Oe
The Famished Road by Ben Okri
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
The Great Impersonation by E Phillips Oppenheim
The Strange Borders of Palace Crescent by E Phillips Oppenheim
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

Burmese Days by George Orwell
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk
Toxic Shock by Sara Paretsky
Blacklist by Sara Paretsky
The Ragazzi Pier by Paolo Pasolini
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
The Moon and the Bonfire by Cesare Pavese
Nineteen Seventy Four by David Peace
Nineteen Seventy Seven by David Peace

GB84 by David Peace
Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock
Headlong Hall by Thomas Love Peacock
Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake
The Big Blowdown by George Pelecanos
Hard Revolution by George Pelecanos
The Sacred Book of the Werewolf by Victor Pelevin
The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
La Disparition by Georges Perec
Les Revenentes by Georges Perec

La Vie Mode d'Emploi by Georges Perec
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
My Search for Warren Harding by Robert Plunkett
The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and CM Kornbluth
My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell
The Valley of Bones by Anthony Powell
The Soldier's Art by Anthony Powell
The Military Philosophers by Anthony Powell
Afternoon Men by Anthony Powell
A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
A Glastonbury Romance by John Cowper Powys
The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett
Manon Lescaut by Abbe Prevost
Lush Life by Richard Price
The Prestige by Christopher Priest
The Good Companions by JB Priestley

The Shipping News by E Annie Proulx
Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
Less Than Angels by Barbara Pym
V by Thomas Pynchon

The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

Vineland by Thomas Pynchon
Zazie in the Metro by Raymond Queneau
The Crime of Father Amado by José Maria de Eça de Queiroz
Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais
The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
Black and Blue by Ian Rankin
The Hanging Gardens by Ian Rankin
Exit Music by Ian Rankin
The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolp Erich Raspe
Alms for Oblivion by Simon Raven
A Married Man by Piers Paul Read

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
Judgment in Stone by Ruth Rendell
Live Flesh by Ruth Rendell

Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Pointed Roofs by Dorothy Richardson
The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney by Henry Handel Richardson
Maurice Guest by Henry Handel Richardson
Pamela by Samuel Richardson
Clarissa by Samuel Richardson
Solomon Gursky Was Here by Mordecai Richler

The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
The Devil to Pay in the Backlands by Joao Guimaraes Rosa
Call it Sleep by Henry Roth
The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth

American Pastoral by Philip Roth
The Human Stain by Philip Roth
Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth

Julie, ou la Nouvelle Heloise by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

Shame by Salman Rushdie
The Female Man by Joanna Russ
Air by Geoff Ryman
Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan
Ali and Nino by Kurban Said
Sacaramouche by Rafael Sabatini
Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini
The Westminster Alice by Saki
The Unbearable Bassington by Saki

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
Light Years by James Salter
A Sport and a Passtime by James Salter
The Hunters by James Salter
Alberta and Jacob by Cora Sandel
Dissolution by CJ Sansom
Blindness by Jose Saramago
Whose Body? by Dorothy L Sayers
Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Le Sayers
To Each his Own by Leonardo Sciascia
The Reader by Benhardq Schlink
Staying On by Paul Scott
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
The Reluctant Orphan by Aara Seale
Hurrah for St Trinian's by Ronald Searle
The Rings of Saturn by WG Sebald
Austerlitz by WG Sebald
Love Story by Eric Segal
Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr
Great Apes by Will Self
How the Dead Live by Will Self

The Lonely Londoners by Samuel Selvon
God's Bit of Wood by Ousmane Sembene
The Case of Comrade Tulayev by Victor Serge
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Porterhouse Blue by Tom Sharpe
Blott on the Landscape by Tom Sharpe
The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw
Richshaw Boy by Lao She
Office Politics by Wilfrid Sheed

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Unless by Carol Shields
We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver
A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning by Alan Sillitoe
The Madman of Bergerac by Georges Simenon
The Blue Room by Georges Simenon
Belles Lettres Papers: A Novel by Charles Simmons
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
The Three Sisters by May Sinclair

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Enemies, a Love Story by Isaac Bashevis Singer
The Family Moskat or The Manor or The Estate by Isaac Bashevis Singer
The Laughing Policeman by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
At Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart
Moo by Jane Smiley
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith
Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith
Novel on Yellow Paper by Stevie Smith
Topper Takes a Trip by Thorne Smith

White Teeth by Zadie Smith
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom by Tobias Smollett
The Adventures of Roderick Random by Tobias Smollett
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle by Tobias Smollett
The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn
The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark
The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark
Loitering with Intent by Muriel Spark
A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark
Maus by Art Spiegelman
Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon
The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
East of Eden by John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Red and the Black by Stendhal
The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
Cryptonomicon by Neil Stephenson
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne
A Sentimental Journey by Lawrence Sterne

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
White Man Falling by Mike Stocks

Dracula by Bram Stoker
A Flag for Sunrise by Robert Stone
This Sporting Life by David Storey
The League of Frightened Men by Rex Stout

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield
The Red Room by August Stringberg

Sophie's Choice by William Styron
Handley Cross by RS Surtees
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

Perfume by Patrick Suskind
Confessions of Zeno by Italo Svevo
Waterland by Graham Swift
A Tale of a Tub by Jonathan Swift
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore
Diary of a Mad Old Man by Junichiro Tanizaki
Penrod by Booth Tarkington
The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Angel by Elizabeth Taylor

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
The Luck of Barry Lyndon by William Makepeace Thackeray

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Before Lunch by Angela Thirkell
Tropic of Ruislip by Leslie Thomas
Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson
The Getaway by Jim Thompson
The Insult by Rupert Thomson
The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Toibin

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend
Music and Silence by Rose Tremain

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell
Death in Summer by William Trevor

Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope
The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
Venus on the Half-Shell by Kilgore Trout
Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev
First Love by Ivan Turgenev
Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain

Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
Peace in War by Miguel de Unamuno
The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike
The Rabbit Omnibus by John Updike
Couples by John Updike
Z by Vassilis Vassilikos

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
A Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
Williwaw by Gore Vidal
A Dark-Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine
A Fatal inversion by Barbara Vine
King Solomon's Carpet by Barbara Vine
Candide by Voltaire
Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughter-House Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
Slouching Towards Kalamazoo by Peter De Vries

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
The Four Just Men by Edgar Wallace
The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
Institute Benjamenta by Robert Walser
Jimmy Corrigan, The Smarest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware
Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse
Affinity by Sarah Waters

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

Morvern Callar by Alan Warner

Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh
Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh

Black Mischief by Evelyn Waugh

Scoop by Evelyn Waugh
The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh
A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh
Put Out More Flags by Evelyn Waugh
Men at Arms by Evelyn Waugh

The Graduate by Charles Webb
The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon
Tono Bungay by HG Wells
The History of Mr Polly by HG Wells

The Time Machine by HG Wells
The War of the Worlds by HG Wells
The Island of Dr Moreau by HG Wells
Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
T
The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West
The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West
The Machine-Gunners by Robert Westall
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
Frost in May by Antonia White
The Tree of Man by Patrick White
Voss by Patrick White
The Sword in the Stone by TH White

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Molesworth by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle
The Wimbledon Poisoner by Nigel Williams
Anglo-Saxon Attitudes by Angus Wilson
The Old Men at the Zoo by Angus Wilson

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
The Passion by Jeanette Winterson
The Virginian by Owen Wister
Something Fresh by PG Wodehouse
Piccadilly Jim by PG Wodehouse
Thank You Jeeves by PG Wodehouse
Heavy Weather by PG Wodehouse
The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse
Joy in the Morning by PG Wodehouse
The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
East Lynne by Ellen Wood
I'll Go to Bed at Noon by Gerard Woodward

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Orlando by Virginia Woolf

The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk

Native Son by Richard Wright
Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
Therese Raquin by Emile Zola
Germinal by Emile Zola
La Bete Humaine by Emile Zola
The Debacle by Emile Zola